“Depression Quest” isn’t a typical game. It’s not even typical for an atypical game. Unlike convention-violating indie titles like “Journey” or “The Unfinished Swan,” “Depression Quest” isn’t artistic, captivating or even enjoyable. Rather, it’s a gray, text-based and emotionally draining experience about living with depression.“Depression Quest” casts the player as an ordinary 20-something with a job, a girlfriend and crippling major depressive disorder. Throughout the game, the player must make simple day-to-day choices — whether to go out with his girlfriend or how he should conduct a conversation with his mother, for example — with the catch being that the best answer or answers are crossed out and unavailable, just as they would be to someone with depression.
As I’ve said before, I’ve been on both sides of the depression fence. I’ve suffered from clinical depression for almost forty years, although thankfully it’s been treated successfully for the last twenty. And although I haven’t had any family members with depression, I have had friends who were depressed and have been in relationships with men who have depression.
I’ve written about what it feels like to be depressed. What does it look like from the other side? You probably know if you’re dealing with someone who’s depressed. It may be your spouse, parent, child, sibling, employee, roommate or romantic partner. Unless you have personal experience with depression, you’re probably baffled, frustrated, and possibly hurt and angry. Even if you have suffered from depression, you still might be baffled. Your experience with depression, while probably fundamentally similar to this person’s, is going to vary to some extent. Continue reading
When someone you know is depressed, it’s understandable if you feel helpless. If you’ve never suffered from clinical depression, how are you going to know what to say and do, or how it feels?
Ways to Help a Depressed Person
- Listen. Keep in mind that the depressed person isn’t communicating well right now, and is probably speaking slower and less clearly. Be patient and don’t interrupt.
- Take care of little tasks like feeding the cat or doing the laundry. (This suggestion applies if you don’t live with the person. If you do live with the person, you probably have to take on all the tasks).
- Along those lines, remember that the depressed person is not being lazy. Think of when you’re really sick and you can barely get out of bed to go to the bathroom. That’s how a depressive can feel all the time.
- Learn everything you can about depression. Knowledge is power and understanding.
- Take it seriously if the person talks about suicide. Call their doctor for advice on what to do.
- Encourage the individual to get professional help for depression if he or she is resisting.
- If the individual has already started treatment, make sure the depressive is keeping doctor appointments and taking his or her medication.
It is most tempting, when you find out someone is depressed, to attempt to immediately fix the problem. However, until the depressed person has given you permission to be their therapist (as a friend or professional), the following responses are more likely to help.
The things that didn’t make me feel worse are words which 1) acknowledge my depression for what it is (No ‘it’s just a phase’) 2) give me permission to feel depressed (No ‘but why should you be sad?’)
Here is the list from contributors to a.s.d.:
1. “I love you!”
2. “I Care”
3. “You’re not alone in this”
4. “I’m not going to leave/abandon you”
5. “Do you want a hug?”
6. “I love you (if you mean it).”
7. “It will pass, we can ride it out together.”
Some people trivialize depression (often unintentionally) by dropping a platitude on a depressed person as if that is the one thing they needed to hear. While some of these thoughts have been helpful to some people (for example, some find that praying is very helpful), the context in which they are often said mitigates any intended benefit to the hearer. Platitudes don’t cure depression.
Here is the list from contributors to a.s.d. (alt.support.depression):
0. “What’s *your* problem?”
1. “Will you stop that constant whining? What makes you think that anyone cares?”
2. “Have you gotten tired yet of all this me-me-me stuff?”
3. “You just need to give yourself a kick in the rear.”
4. “But it’s all in your mind.”
5. “I thought you were stronger than that.”
6. “No one ever said life was fair.”
7. “As you get stronger you won’t have to wallow in it as much.”
8. “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.”
9. “Do you feel better now?”(Usually said following a five minute conversation in which the speaker has asked me “what’s wrong?” and “would you like to talk about it?” with the best of intentions, but absolutely no under-standing of depression as anything but an irrational sadness.)
10. “Why don’t you just grow up?”
11. “Stop feeling sorry for yourself.”
12. “There are a lot of people worse off than you?”
13. “You have it so good, why aren’t you happy?”
14. “It’s a beautiful day!”
15. “You have so many things to be thankful for, why are you depressed!”
16. “What do you have to be depressed about”.